back to article Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

“So,” murmured the blonde in the now-deserted restaurant late the other evening as she lazily traced the rim of her wineglass with her middle finger before looking up to fix her eyes on mine, “what excites you?” No, I’m not remembering this accurately. It wasn’t a wineglass but a cup of coffee and she was stirring it furiously …

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Good read!

Agreed with everything you said.

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Re: Good read!

We put the 'free' in 'freelance'!

But this is exactly why I avoid that whole industry geared around startups, networking, wannabes, training, etc.

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Coat

Re: Good read!

I would comment on this, but I wouldn't want you to think that I write for nothing.

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What excites me?

Invoicing!

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Re: What excites me?

Asset systems :|

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Re: What excites me?

Whips and chains

I mean... data rich graphs?

( both of which I consider forms of masochism. Unless you're the one presenting the data rich graph in which case you're a sadist)

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Re: What excites me?

Payday

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Re: What excites me? ( Larhten)

+1 mate, payday it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What excites me?

Actually, to be more accurate it's when the invoice gets PAID.

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Re: What excites me?

People telling me what excites them....

Oh yes!

Keep it coming...

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Re: What excites me?

"Actually, to be more accurate it's when the invoice gets PAID."

That's not excitement, that's a bloody orgasm. A big O if it's actually on time ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What excites me?

Lesbians and butter!

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Re: What excites me?

"Lesbians and butter!"

We love lesbians! We love lesbians! We love lesbians!

Oops, sorry, wrong show.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What excites me?

Lesbians and butter!

Lesbians eating bacon butties!! With a nice cup of tea!!!

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Lack of quality?

What lack of quality? This is (sadly perhaps) the most entertaining reading I do all week at work. I've been reloading the main page every few minutes for the last few hours waiting patiently for your column to appear.

Then again the rest of my weekly reading is either math or starts with something like "Company X's profits miss analysts' estimates...". Btw I loved your rant on that, but I guess it won't be news if the analysts's estimates are incorrect.

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Anonymous Coward

Absolutely

But it's not just IT/Jounalism.

As an ( redundant/retired /ex) educational expert there is no shortage of people who seek my expert advice, hang on my every word even. As long as they don't have to pay for me. But if it costs money then they'll happily continue with what they were already doing, even though it isn't working. I should also add that when I recommnend some inexpensive software that will help the kids they won't authorise the time for a staff member to go away and learn how to use it, either.

Maybe it's the " freetard" generation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely

I am reminded of a quote I read a while ago.

CFO: What happens if we pay to train out employees, and then they get a job somewhere else?

CEO: What happens if we don't train them and they stay?

Sadly schools are run based on finances. Why pay extra to train a teacher / staff member when they might end up going elsewhere. I'm also reminded of a friend of mine who works for schools indirectly, installing / troubleshooting hardware etc. School X buys a load of new (fairly nice) printers. A few weeks later they want them all replaced because "They make a lot of noise when you first turn them on"

*flush* bye bye money o/

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Re: Absolutely

That would have been an unusually percipient CEO. (Personally I would have expected the COO to come up with that because, obviously, he or she has real jobs that need to be done by people who can actually do them.)

Schools also think that somehow they can get technicians who know their jobs for half the going rate of a teacher.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely and Schools

Yes schools with the highly trained teachers who know nothing about the safety of the chemicals in their store and over rule the lab technician. Mind you the teachers have mastered the alphabet, but neither health and safety nor the period table. So acids and alkalis both begin with A so can sit together. Just wait for them to have a party, anyone for ammonia with any choice of partner?

'Trace the item' can become fun with e.g. copper oxide which goes as copper with co but not with cupric or cuprous versions which begin with cu.

It does get worse, iron begins with i but ferric and ferrous begin with f, rust of course begins with r.

Still who needs to bother with such things as the period table and health and safety. This is a school not real life. - Oh and sodium, potassium and lithium for example, cannot be stored in secure protected areas as the key is missing.

What is a fire risk?

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Boffin

Re: Absolutely and Schools

Does anyone still use the -ic and -ous suffixes? I thought it was all Fe(II) and Fe(III) these days (hell, even 30 years ago when I did Chemistry O-level).

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J P
Mushroom

Re: Absolutely and Schools

Couldn't you just file them all under C for Chemicals? Or save time, & stick them all in one jar labelled (briefly) "compound"?

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Re: Absolutely and Schools

Shirley, all in one jar labelled, 'reaction', screw the lid on and run.

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Re: Absolutely and Schools

> Still who needs to bother with such things as the period table

I think Tom Leher could help you out there. or if that's not trendy enough for today's yoof (the teachers, not the children) there's a new, graphic version - though I'm not sure if the entry for Silicon(e) was a deliberate mistake. Or did I just imagine it?

http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/2013/05/the-new-periodic-table-song.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely and Schools

Never worked in science depts. But I quickly started to file all my teaching admin under S (for "stuff").

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Re: Absolutely and Schools

>Never worked in science depts. But I quickly started to file all my teaching admin under S (for "stuff").

All my admin stuff is under S too - for "shit", and its all filed in the B (for 'bin')

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely and Schools

I think Tom Leher could help you out there.

He missed out unobtainium!

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Re: Absolutely

"CFO: What happens if we pay to train out employees, and then they get a job somewhere else?"

"CEO: What happens if we don't train them and they stay?"

Of all the places I've worked at bar one, the CEO has never said that.

And that place went out of business anway.

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J 3

Re: Absolutely

It seems to be widespread, then. My graphic designer friends all rant about all the "for-exposure" work they get offered to perform. You know: "I don't have the budget right now, but if this business takes off hundreds, maybe thousands of people will see your work. All you need is to design this logo/flier/website/whatever for me". Amazingly enough, some designers must still believe that is a good deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Absolutely and Schools

some wouldn't react, so it would have to be (briefly) a 'mixture of compounds'.

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Returning a favour would be nice

I've only been asked to do the speaking bit just the once, but at least I was expensively wined and dined in return. The thing that gets me is that, as a known 'techie', I am asked if I can just take a quick look at someone's laptop/tablet/phone/TV/satnav/microwave and even, on one occasion, a doorbell. Do I ever get an offer of some gardening or a couple of shirts ironed in exchange? To make matters worse, you find yourself being responsible for a lifetime warranty as soon as you do the slightest thing. Sort out someone's email problems on their phone and who's in trouble if the battery dies a week later?

Just say 'no'.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I work for marmalade. I live in a village full of retired people, some of whom make killer marmalade. I ALWAYS respond to those people's requests for assistance. I also work for whisky - the composting group wanted a website, and gave me a bottle of Old Pulteney (if you haven't tried it, you've missed something special). The other guy, who can't keep his email working for more than 2 weeks at a time, takes me for days out on his yacht.

Works for me.

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Terminator

Re: Returning a favour would be nice

To make matters worse, you find yourself being responsible for a lifetime warranty as soon as you do the slightest thing

I had someone who invariably notified me of problems only well after they had already escalated past "unworkable" instead of "hey, it's getting sluggish". No spyware or viruses, just disk full errors ("I can't save any document I write"), keeping every frigging mail since day 1, and all in their inbox, irritatingly stupid stuff like that. Which were generally easy but time-consuming to fix.

Eventually I stopped caring, and started ignoring their mail.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I tell people that working on their phone, PC, tablet or whatever is beneath me- "It's rather like asking a Michelin starred chef to fry an egg for you"

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I wrote about this last year. You may enjoy...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/29/something_for_the_weekend_technology_rapairman/

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Holmes

Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Let's hope that HMRC are not reading this post.

The view 'barter' transactions with a dim view. all that lovely Tax your are avoiding... Hard working Families will be hating you with every bit of food they have to get from a food bank.

how does building web sites in chokey sound?

Yes, there is an election looming.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I now have a stack of printouts of http://xkcd.com/627/ on my desk to ward off any advances to what seems to have become an unofficial IT helpdesk.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Returning a favour would be nice re: HMRC

As far as I am aware, HMRC looked at trying to count barter as an income, but decided that the problems of attempting to set a notional value on something like the type of barter described here was inefficient and subject to challenge, and would probably cost much more than the money that would be recovered.

They looked at trying to make the people associated in the barter assign the value, but as there were no checks, there was nothing to force people to even declare it. They did decide that if there was a 'scale of barter value' in an organised barter scheme, they might treat that as a currency, and attempt to count that as income, but even that would have been difficult.

So although they disapprove, and are prepared to say as much to the country as a whole, there is realistically nothing that they can do about it. (This happens more than you might think. My company had an expenses compliance check from HMRC once where a particular practice that I was following over the payment of daily subsistence expenses while I was working away from home was questioned. They said "We don't really like the way that you're assigning a per-diem for your expenses. We would prefer that you kept receipts". I replied, "The per-diem I pay is below your allowed value for daily expenses, and I see nothing in the regulations that state that I have to account separately for legitimate expenses that fall into the category for the per-diem, so what would you do about it". "Nothing", they said, "but we don't like it". My company passed the check with no other issues, and was commended on the records that were kept. This was some time ago, so things may have changed).

Large scale commercial barter may be investigated, but marmalade for fixing a computer is just not worth them bothering.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Yeah, I've used "asking a Ford automotive design engineer to change your oil" in the same vein.

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Re: HMRC view 'barter' transactions with a dim view

The most senior at HMRC are not averse to bartering over the odd billion of corporation tax

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Joke

Re: Returning a favour would be nice

"I now have a stack of printouts of http://xkcd.com/627/ on my desk to ward off any advances to what seems to have become an unofficial IT helpdesk."

Stop ruining the illusion! Years I've spent with that technique, fooling everyone in sight.

Rummaging through the registry is good for some added showmanship too.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Oh. When I read the first four words, I wonder who the hell that was. Then I got to the part about whisky. At which point I started over, and it made much more sense.

I, too, work for whisky, whiskey, beer, gin, scotch, bourbon, wine, rum, food and, of course, money if all you have is tequilla or goldschlager.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I tell people that working on their phone, PC, tablet or whatever is beneath me- "It's rather like asking a Michelin starred chef to fry an egg for you"

It's difficult to say that without looking like a righteous know-it-all knob.

I used to say I only worked on "corporate grade systems", I don't know anything about domestic equipment.

It doesn't work either. Just because you're in IT now, it obviously means you can work on a $10 transistor radio as well. "Beyond economical repair" doesn't come into the equasion, because they're expecting it for free.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

"I work for marmalade. I live in a village full of retired people, some of whom make killer marmalade."

You weren't perchance discovered at Paddington Station, with a sign round your neck saying 'Please look after this bear' were you?

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

"No good deed goes unpunished"

Anyone who's ever helped someone with any even vaguely technical issue has felt the rough edge of that one... These days I play dumb, and bite my tongue.

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Yes...................

Quite a few years ago I repaired a kettle for a neighbor - this involved buying and fitting a new element.

They refused to pay for it because it was done as a "favor" --------- humph!

From that day on I started to charge for repairs. The phone calls that started "Can you just,,,, " petered out. The requests from family/friends to do us a favor and fix xxxxxx stopped when I started saying "OK, the part costs £XX and It will cost £XX to do it...........

"If you do owt for nowt - do it for thy seen"

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Sometimes it pays off though. Even if they never notice, you do know you did the right thing.

Otherwise you do end up wined and dined. There is no such thing as a "free lunch" unless your the one giving out the plates. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: John Tserkezis

"Beyond economical repair"

I got asked to fix a phone by a customer. I did internet and pc trouble shooting for locals as a little job, nothing professional (offered or advertised, just a helping hand).

The phone was bought broken for £2.50 from a car boot. I really did not know what to say... I would have charged them £15 just to turn up if it was not for the fact I'd not charge them to say "no" at the door then walk back home.

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Gimp

Re: Returning a favour would be nice

As I understand it the techies managing other people's home computer systems always put Linux on those systems.

Isn't that enough of an revenge?

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

I've found the smae. Retired and older people seem to value service and are intent on repaying you in plates of scones, a leg of lamb or a bunch of carrots.

It's the "internet is free" generation that seem to expect any tech stuff to be done for free and have pretty much no useful services with which to repay you.

Still, It you were charging what commercial support organisations do, you'd be able to buy that bottle of whiskey (and maybe the yacht).

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Re: Returning a favour would be nice

Barter transactions are OK. You assign a monetary value to the jar of marmalade and the computer repair, and the marmalade maker shows that amount as the sale of marmalade and cost of fixing computer (if the computer is used in the marmalade making business), and the computer repairer shows that amount as sales of computer repairing services, and purchase of marmalade (if the marmalade is used in the computer repairing business). If either of the expenses are not business expenses, then they are shown as drawings just like if you had received the cash and used it for personal living expenses.

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